2017 was one of the most destructive years ever recorded in California history. With over 20 disastrous fires, California residents felt the terror from North to South. Properties were damaged, communities were destroyed and lives were lost. Though an unpleasant memory, this unfortunately serves as a realistic reminder of what may come in the years following. In wake of this tragedy, California residents must prepare themselves for this cataclysmic possibility.
The severe December 2017 fires caused over 230,000 residents to evacuate, given the fires engulfed over 307,900 acres, as well as destroyed/damaged over 1,300 structures. Out of these fires was the Thomas Fire in the Ventura and Santa Barbara County, perhaps one of California’s most dangerously recorded fire to date. From December 4th, 2017 to January 8th, 2018, the Thomas fire scorched over 281,893 acres, as well as cost over $297 million in damages and restoration. While the cause is still under investigation, it’s certain this record-breaking fire also ignited the deadly Montecito mudslide.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times
Santa Ana’s extreme winds had sparked the enormous Thomas fire. The outcome of the Thomas Fire had scorched acres of land, including vegetation that supported the surrounding Santa Barbara hillsides. On January 9th, just weeks after the Thomas Fire impacted the county, heavy rainfall began to shower the community. Unfortunately, too much rain fall was being absorbed into the scorched ground – given no vegetation was around to support the rainfall. In lack of vegetation, the mix of rainfall and scorched surfaces caused excess amounts of mud to develop. Like the Thomas Fire, the Montecito Mudslide quickly enlarged. Residents in this county couldn’t seem to catch a break, with evacuations, fires and now a mudslide, Southern California was in a state of true emergency. The dilemma cost insurance companies a whopping $421 million in claims. The most unfortunate thing to remember from this mudslide are the 21 individuals that lost their lives during this disaster.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times
The first step to becoming safer, is to understand the risks involved. While California doesn’t get as humid as the east coast, it certainly gets hot. Whether intense heat or winds, fire seems almost inevitable to happen. The more you are aware, the more likely you can inspire others to be just as prepared for disaster.
Dependent on where you live in California, you may be at a lower or higher risk of experiencing a wildfire. People who live inland, or closer to these metropolitan-based areas, may be less likely to experience a wildfire in comparison to those who live near hillsides or elevated regions. This is also true for those who may live in higher climate areas, like the desert. To be sure, refer to your local news channel or radio station for updates and latest weather conditions.
Part of protecting your property from a wildfire includes regular maintenance. This means removing anything in your home’s vicinity that may spark flames – whether in contact from a direct flame or from radiating heat close by. To minimize the chance of fire impacting your home, be sure to maintain at least 100 ft. surrounding the property – removing debris, clearing pathways, etc. When landscaping your home, consider using high-moisture plants that grow close to the ground, as well as using fire-safe patios and stone walls.
In the event an emergency takes place, it’s important everyone in your household is prepared. One of the factors you and your family members should establish is a place to meet, just in case you become separated or have lost each other. Apart from setting a designated emergency meeting place, it’s essential to also develop an evacuation plan – assuring you and your family know the best ways to safely evacuate the property, as well as what to avoid during evacuation. Other things to consider are preparing your youngest child as to what to do / react in the event of an emergency. Some resources on how to prepare your children and elderly for emergency can be found via CalFire.
If you don’t already have a first-aid or emergency supply kit in your home, it’s time to make one. Having a set of prepared emergency supplies is always good to have, no matter what kind of emergency you may run into. Remember, this is an emergency supply kit, so only pack things that are of absolute importance like:
If you are forced to evacuate and feel you are forgetting something, remember FEMA’s “Five P’s of Evacuation:”
By remembering this, it may do you justice in the long-run. When in a state of emergency, or experiencing a wildfire, many thoughts could be racing through your mind. The most important thing is to be calm and attentive before, during and after the dilemma. For a detailed guide on what to do during a wildfire, visit FEMA's "How to Prepare for a Wildfire" guide.
If you, or someone you love, has experienced fire damage to their property, contact our firm immediately. While we can’t speak for other law firms, our firm is here to help. At our fire damage law firm, we’ll send out our own inspector to evaluate the extent of the fire damage on your property, help you file a claim with your property’s insurance, begin the necessary repairs needed for your fire-damaged property and help you gain proper recovery options – which sometimes includes a settlement from your insurance company. Here, we’ll defend your rights to our utmost ability – we’re here to help.
888-LAW-3111 Monday-Friday, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
— Jack Ter-Saakyan, Esq.
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